Fleet Upgrade Planned for Congressional Travels

On Monday, the New York Times reported a House appropriation proposal for new aircraft had been nixed. According to an earlier Wall Street Journal report, Congress had proposed buying eight new jets to accommodate increased travel by "congressional officials." The $550 million purchase would have added to an existing fleet of some 24 existing Gulfstreams and Boeing 737s. According to the WSJ report, the Pentagon had asked simply for one Gulfstream V and one Boeing to replace older aircraft. The Defense Department had asked to purchase a pair of leased 737s. In the New York Times' Monday story, House panel chairman John Murtha, a Democrat from Pennsylvania, said, "It the Department of Defense does not want these aircraft, they will be eliminated from the bill." According to a spokesman for the House Appropriations Committee, which proposed buying the eight aircraft, over the last five years Air Force passenger planes carried military personnel 44% of the time; members of the Presidential administration 42% of the time; and members of Congress 14.5% of the time.